It’s Easy, You Just…

These four words have got to be my second least favorite, right after “I told you so.” They minimize and invalidate and frustrate people everywhere.

“It’s easy, you just…”

[insert a vastly over-simplified explanation of a complicated topic here]


I’m sure I’ve said it before. I’ve belittled others by making their struggle seem easy.

But these four words have been said to me too many times.

And I won’t be saying them again.

Instead of demystifying, you have widened the gap between a man and what he is reaching for by disregarding the effort it takes to get there.

You may be an expert at many things. Let’s say you are.

But if the facets you have mastered are the tip of my pinky finger, then all available facets of life are a football field.

It’s easy for you to say it’s easy. It’s tough for someone to understand what you know thanks to talent or practice. It makes you sound arrogant and condescending, even though you don’t mean to come across that way.

I’m glad it’s easy for you. Honestly! We need people you like to teach us what you know so well. Let’s just try expressing your “encouragement” differently next time.

Maybe something like this…

“It’s not easy. It’s pretty difficult, at least until you know a few tricks. Would you like any help?”

Why is it so easy to forget no one else knows what we know?

Growing with the Support of a Solid Friend

Sometimes support is a distraction. You can become obsessed with finding people who agree with you or support your cause.

However, that is not what this post is about!

It is about establishing accountability with a solid friend who will walk with you on your journey for growth.


Though it may be possible to change without this kind of support, the encouragement you find will fuel you to keep going. And, solid friends will hold you to the path you yourself want to take.

Think of them as the supports on either side of small trees, pulling on the trunk to help it grow straight.

At some point in my own journey, I realized isolation wasn’t helping. I kept my skeletons deep in my closet so I could appear to have it all together to everyone else. (Pride is behind thoughts like this, but that discussion will have to continue in a book one day!)

Inside, however, I was more than a bit miserable.

Gradually, I started sharing my skeletons with close, trusted friends who made a safe place for me. They weren’t judgmental. They didn’t gasp at my flaws and gossip about my failures to others. Instead, they listened attentively and even prayed with me.

And, beyond that, they shared some of their own flaws and failures. They spoke of their own goals for growth.

It helps so much to know you are in good company.

And you are not alone on this journey for growth.

Have you exposed the skeletons in your closet? If not, why? Think of specific friends who will gladly support you as you change and grow.

Disagree and Commit

I recently discovered the concept of “Disagree and Commit” mentioned in an audiobook. When I realized how powerful it was, I played the section over and over until it sank deep into my brain.

“Disagree and Commit” is a principle which obligates each participant in a meeting to say what they are thinking, even if it means a heated discussion. Your duty is to agree or disagree, but to speak your mind openly.


At the end of the meeting, however, everyone decides on the solution and commits to follow through on it. Regardless of whether they agree or disagree with it!

Then it hit me — this is so much more than just an effective leadership technique.

Any guesses where I am going with this?

Patrick Lencioni discusses the “Disagree and Commit” strategy of leadership in his book The Advantage. His target is leadership and management groups in organizations. His team works with these groups to dramatically improve their organizational health. As you can guess, this strategy is particularly effective at unifying the group on a given topic.

Intel and Amazon practice “Disagree and Commit.” Here is the statement from Amazon’s web page on Leadership Principles:

Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

I can believe this concept works great for management teams.

But “Disagree and Commit” is also one of the keys to a thriving marriage.

Imagine this — a husband and wife disagree on how to spend money. The disagreement turns into a fight and one person “wins” while the other “loses.” (Actually, both lose!) Then the spouse who “lost” drags his feet, undermines the decision, and sabotages it with comments like, “I wanted something better, but she just had to have it her way.”

Do you see how divisive comments like this are?

There is nothing wrong with disagreements. Let me say it again — you can and should disagree with your spouse as needed.

But at some point you both need to come to a decision. And you both need to commit to the decision.

This is your decision — together — as a unified team.

After that, it doesn’t matter who wanted what or who disagreed. Right or wrong, great or awful, you are both committed to making the decision work.

You know what?

I thoroughly believe it is better for a couple to be fully committed to a good decision than to commit half-heartedly to an excellent decision.

How do you feel about committing to a decision you disagree with?

Jabs Across the Dinner Table

It’s interesting what impressions you can get from listening to a few moments of conversation. You can see a glimpse of the person’s soul just by hearing how he or she talks at the dinner table.


Having guests over for dinner implies everyone is on their best behavior, wouldn’t you think?

This has definitely not been my experience. Wife and I have been guests at the dinner tables of many families, and the impressions we have had are shocking.

Some dinner tables are tense. The air is thick with unhealthy conflict and unresolved issues. The conversation reflects this, with the husband and wife exchanging jabs across the dinner table.

Nasty looks doesn’t cover it. Contemptuous body language is more like it!

It starts with the wife asking the husband to pass the potatoes, which he could do if he ever listened to her. Then the husband shoots back an insult about her inability to manage the household while he is out working all day.

It’s hard to enjoy a meal with conversations like this.

At these dinners, I can’t stop imagining the host couple throwing literary daggers at each other, each one aimed to kill. It’s beyond awkward — it’s awful.

This kind of behavior destroys marriages and damages families. When the home is not a safe place, and when God is not a part of the relationship, the husband and wife seek comfort elsewhere. They get validation from friends that the spouse is the one to blame, and they bring this contempt home to the dinner table.

It just makes me sad.

Contrast this with healthy, growing marriages rooted in faith in God. The husband and wife are not perfect, nor do they try to be. They are flawed humans. Pride is avoided, since that only creates problems. They love each other actively.

What would it be like to have dinner with a couple like this?

You can be sure there are no jabs flying across the table. You will instead find support, encouragement, and trust.

It’s so refreshing to be around couples like this. The conversation comes naturally, and the atmosphere is one of sincerity and companionship.

And daggers are nowhere to be found.

Let’s get personal. How would your friends feel after having dinner with you and your spouse? Energized, or drained?

How’s That Working for You?

Some people seem to be successful and have it all together despite how they thrive on being ruthless or dishonest. They seem to enjoy being angry, bitter, scheming, or greedy.


Or, they merely seem to enjoy these things.

When I encounter people like this, who appear to be doing well despite their selfish or otherwise hurtful actions, I let Dr. Phil do the talking.

How’s that working for you?

Don’t you wonder if things really are somehow going well for them?

Imagine waking up each day as someone who regularly deceives others or doesn’t trust his employees. Imagine what it feels like to negatively manipulate people and avoid getting close to them. Imagine judging others constantly.

Imagine living one life in front of your friends and another life behind their backs.

Do you think it is actually working out for these people? Are they getting what they really want?

Everything may appear to be fine, but it isn’t. At least, not long term. There is no enjoying life for those who are busy ruining it for others. There are undeniably huge cracks in the foundation which will become more obvious over time.

Don’t be fooled. Don’t be tempted by their lifestyle. Don’t desire to be like them because they seem to have it all.

It’s not working for them. It’s a house of cards soon to collapse.

It’s not like these people are having a wonderful time being mean to you. Or cheating you out of money. Or manipulating you. Or being a successful workaholic at the expense of close relationships.

They might be a slave to these things. You never know.

But let’s agree on one thing.

No one gets to pass on suffering. No one is able to dodge pain or frustration or hardship. No one can avoid problems for long. It just doesn’t happen.

The sun rises, and the rain falls on the evil and the good alike.

And when you do encounter these miserable manipulators and deceivers — and you will — remember you can break the cycle of negativity. At least for moment.

But how? Well, two ways.

Love them. And pray for them. That’s how.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
–Matthew 5:44-45

Write down the specific people in your life who frustrate you to no end. Place this list on your mirror and use it as a reminder to love and pray for them.